Friday, September 26, 2014

Review Me Twice: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This week's review book, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, was number three on the ALA's list of most frequently banned/challenged books in 2012 (out of 464 challenges reported). The reasons given for its challenges were drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group. (You'll notice that the first two reasons wouldn't be relevant if it weren't for the fourth reason.)

Let's address the "reasons why" (ha, see what I did there?) this book was banned/challenged first. I'm a little offended that the sexual assault wasn't mentioned, but "sexually explicit" was. That bothers me. But that's not the book's fault; that's the fault of someone who didn't want other people to read this book because they're afraid of it.

I really like this book. I like the way it's set up. Clay gets a box of cassette tapes in the mail and they were made by the girl at school who killed herself. They're being sent to all thirteen people she deems - in some part - responsible for her suicide. It's different and interesting (and it knows that cassettes are outdated... it's kind of a plot point that he needs to find a way to listen to the tapes.)

I'm about to get hypocritical here, so get ready. Remember how, with The Fault in Our Stars, I didn't like the characters because I thought they were smug and self-centered and that sort of ruined the book for me? Well, I don't really like Hannah in this book. At first, you think, "Oh, poor girl, she was bullied and assaulted and used and she reached a breaking point and saw no other way out." But later, I can't help but be a little mad at her. Some of her "reasons" are a little tenuous and the tapes seem to be more like her playing with flies in a web than anything else. The difference, though? I don't believe that Jay Asher idolizes her like John Green idolizes his characters.

Another weird comparison to The Fault in Our Stars that I noticed? I cry at this book (same place, every time) but not TFioS. But as we know from that review, I might be the only person in the world who doesn't.

I really disliked Hannah in the book.  She gives these tapes to all these people, blaming them for her suicide, for what happened to her, and never once takes responsibility for what she has done in her own life.  She never once takes responsibility for what's going on in school and around her and with her friends and family.  She claims that no one cares about her, no one wants to reach out and help her, but when Clay tries, she pushes him away as hard as she possibly can.

And I think Hannah kind of ruined the book for me.  Because I really did like Clay and the fact that he had to listen to these tapes and share her journey.  I really like that Asher opens your eyes about all the things that are going on in this high school, and they're all real, scary things that happen in the real world.  Rape, and ruined reputations, and bullying.  It all happens, every day, in high school and more often than not gets swept under the rug.

But I think I just got so annoyed and put off by Hannah, it distracted me from how good the rest of the book was.

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